Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unemployment Line: the President Talks About Finding A Job

While Republicans were duking it out in Florida, the President appeared at a "Google+ Hangout," where he had this exchange with a woman who said her husband has not been able to find full time employment as a semi-conductor engineer. 

During his Google+ hangout Pres. Obama tells a woman that her husband shouldn't be unemployed from the growth he has seen in the economy. Obama said he finds it "interesting" because he is getting "the word" that someone in her husband's job field "should be able to find something right away." 
Obama offered to do something if she would just send him her husband's resume. 
The woman wants to know why Obama is extending visas for foreigners when there is tons of demand for American jobs by Americans 
"I don't know what your husband's speciality [is], but I can tell you that there is a huge demand around the country for engineers," Obama told the woman. 
"I understand that," she responded. "But how am -- given the list that you're getting, I mean we're not getting that. You said in the State of the Union address for business leaders to ask what can they do to bring jobs back to America 
Obama is, if nothing else, a pro. She first says her husband is an engineer which sends Obama off on a riff about civil engineers and how, if only we could pass his infrastructure bill, we could put some of those guys back to work. (I thought that's what the first stimulus bill was for). Then she says, no, hubby is a semi-conductor engineer so that's no good. 

Really, though, for all of Obama's friendliness, his response to this woman is remarkably detached. He keeps saying that it's "interesting" that the husband can't find full time work. You see, all the information the president has - and, I guess he has all of it - says that engineers of all stripes should be able to find work! Well, problem solved! (Ace suggests that the president was saying "interesting" as a way to mask his real answer: "I don't believe you")

More important, he completely ignores her original question about why the US is handing out (and extending) H1-B visas when there are plenty of Americans out there who are out of work. Derbyshire calls this the "Abominable Question" and for good reason. While there is certainly a rationale for the H1-B visa, I don't think there's any doubt that every H1-B visa holder represents an American who was unable to find a job. Are out-of-work American semi-conductor engineers supposed to go to India to find work? That seems to be the sub-text. 

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